Freddy vs. Jason, a long-awaited crossover horror/slasher film, spent years in Development Hell before its eventual release in 2003.The film takes place after Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare and Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Fridaynote , which hinted at the crossover for the first time with its final shot - Freddy's claw dragging Jason's mask down to Hell. Freddy Krueger needs someone to help him regain his powers, since people can only dream about him if they know about him and the town of Springwood covered him up completely. After searching "the bowels of Hell", Krueger revives Jason Voorhees and sends the Crystal Lake Killer to Springwood; Freddy figures Jason's murderous rampage will end up blamed on Freddy (which would give Krueger back his power), and Jason doesn't seem to care if he gets blamed so long as he gets to kill.For a brief period, the plan works: after hearing the name "Krueger" from a police officer, a group of teenagers connected to Jason's first few victims spread Freddy's name around town, which soon allows the Springwood Slasher to regain his powers. When Jason ends up killing one of Krueger's intended victims, however, an enraged Freddy decides to take Jason out. While the supernatural serial killers battle with each other in both dreams and reality, the teens search for a way to stop both Freddy and Jason for good.This film marks the end of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th franchises, as a remake/continuity reboot of both series would come out a few years later. A planned film sequel to Freddy vs. Jason ended up becoming the comic book miniseries Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash.Despite poor reviews, Freddy vs. Jason grossed more at the box office than any prior film in either franchise (and of the reboots, Nightmare only made more when factoring in worldwide gross), which makes it the most successful film in both franchises' histories.
Freddy vs. Jason contains examples of the following tropes:
All Therapists Are Muggles: Inverted: the mental-hospital staff in Springwood know damn well that Freddy is for real, and use Hypnocil and fraudulent institutionalization of witnesses to ensure that Freddy's potential victims remain Muggles. That way, the dream-stalking killer can't gain strength from their fear.
An Arm and a Leg: In the beginning of their Dream World battle, Jason effortlessly slices off Freddy's arms. Freddy hams it up as horrible injuries before demonstrating he can simply heal. In the real world, Freddy loses one of his arms in the explosion and is not happy about it at all.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Freddy's wink to the audience as his decapitated head is carried by Jason at the end of the film does this.
Brought Down to Badass: Freddy loses his nigh-invulnerability and reality-warping powers when he's dragged into the Real World,but this doesn't mean he's going down without a fight. He's still Made of Iron and strong enough to inflict lasting damage on Jason (with assistance from improvised weaponry and Jason's own Machete, of course).
Two ravers encounter Jason and mess around with him. It doesn't endwell for them. They were high and drunk at the time, but even then it's still not a good idea to piss off a scary-looking behemoth who showed up out of nowhere.
Freddy does the same to Jason when taunting him about his fear of water. To add further insult to injury he playfully shows Jason his mother's severed head.
Cannot Dream: The parents of Springfield use the drug Hypnocil to supress the dreams of the quarantined teenagers who were exposed to nightmare monster Freddy Krueger to destroy every memory of him, as he feeds off of fear. It keeps them safe from Krueger's dream invasions, at least temporarily.
Canon Discontinuity: Despite being made after both films, Freddy vs. Jason ignored both Jason X and Wes Craven's New Nightmare.
Freddy bringing Jason back from Hell could be what set up the events of Jason X, the events of which began in the then-future of 2010 (which would make this film a sort of interquel between parts 9 and 10 of the Friday the 13th franchise).
New Nightmare is set in an alternate universe, and the villain isn't actually Freddy, it's a demon.
Freddy's Dead is a maybe case; shots from it are used in the montage at the beginning, but the whole "All kids in Springfield are dead, all adults are insane" thing is ignored. But that movie states that it takes place "Ten years from now", so possibly it's like Jason X in that it just hasn't happened yet.
In the original theatrical cut of Freddy's Dead, Maggie is introduced turning 28. Given when Freddy died, the movie has to already happened.
Cliff Hanger: The final shot of the film shows Jason emerging from Crystal Lake with the decapitated head of Freddy, which is apparently alive (it winks at the audience before the credits begin to roll). Considering the nature of the shot and the characters, there's no way to know for sure who "won" the battle or if either character even lived through it.
This would be resolved in Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, but before then, this situation resulted in a Word of God conflict: director Ronny Yu said Freddy won, while writers Damian Shannon and Mark Swift said Jason won.
Creepy Cemetery: This is where Lori ends up in her first nightmare, and finds the spectres of Freddy's child victims playing and singing his warning rhyme.
Compensating for Something: Kia tries to distract Freddy by trash talking him. Among others things, she says that the knifes on Freddy's glove are probably his way of compensating for the obvious. She also notes that in contrast to him, Jason wields a huge machete instead.
Continuity Nod: Given the nature of the film and the characters, there's quite a few of these, but one of the best is the Hypnocil drug — Nancy took the drug in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors and recommended it to the doctors at Westin Hills.
Freddy's narration at the beginning is laid over a montage of scenes from the A Nightmare on Elm Street series.
The film's Novelization features one to every prior film in both franchises (with the exceptions of Jason X and New Nightmare, which have no bearing on the film's story).
Distracted from Death: Charlie Linderman gets himself mortally wounded by attacking Jason in an attempt to keep him away from Kia. Later, he tells Kia to leave him because he'll slow her from getting help. Kia is reluctant to do so, but eventually agrees, telling him she's going to come back with help. He dies the moment she turns her back to leave.
Ear Ache: Lori tears off one of Freddy's ears and still has it in her hand when she wakes up. When she drops it on the floor, it turns into a pile of maggots.
Enemy Mine: Both Freddy and Jason pull this off with the kids. Freddy possessing Freeburg in order to stop Jason and Jason in turn saving Lori and Will from Freddy by stabbing him with his own glove arm.
Evasive Fight Thread Episode: While Freddy is the mastermind behind the events of the film, Jason ends up getting the most kills of the two. The final fight between the two ends with both of them sinking to the bottom of Crystal Lake, Freddy having been decapitated and Jason having suffered a multitude of injuries at the hands of Krueger.
Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Jason comes back to life and goes to Elm Street because he believes his mother told him to do it. When Jason figures out his mother was Freddy in disguise, he is... unhappy.
Even Evil Has Standards: When Lori saves Jason from drowning in the Dream World, he appears to pay her back later by saving her from Freddy — twice. Jason is still a raging killing machine, though, so other teens are caught in the crossfire.
Evil Is Not a Toy: Freddy provokes Jason into attacking Springwood under the assumption he can send Jason away once Voorhees' job is done. The big dog won't quit eating, though, so....
Evil Versus Evil: Freddy Krueger vs. Jason Voorhees. Both are mass-murdering serial killers. The winner is fuzzy, but on the whole most people find themselves siding with the guy who isn't a child molester (even if he does have many, many more kills). Even the heroes end up rooting for Jason over Freddy because they decide Jason is the Lesser of Two Evils between them. There was also a pragmatic reason for the protagonists supporting Jason over Freddy. While Jason may have had a bigger body count, he's generally less dangerous because he tends to stay in Camp Crystal Lake unless provoked. Freddy actively hunts for victims and can kill you anywhere in the world as long as you're asleep.
Hilariously referenced in the Never Sleep Again documentary:
Jason Mewes: I mean, it was amazing when they offered this, and I went and I played Freeburg, and it was like, a lifelong dream come— *needle scratch* Wait — I didn't play Freeburg! I wasn't in that movie! *walks off set*
Fire/Water Juxtaposition: One of the many techniques used to set Freddy and Jason up as symbolic adversaries. In one discussion, it's specifically pointed out that Freddy's origin story involves him being reborn through fire, and Jason's origin story involves him being reborn through water.
Focus Group Ending: In the original ending, after Freddy and Jason are defeated, Lori and Will are back at her home making love for the first time. Will becomes violent in the middle of it, and then grows blades out of his fingers. Lori screams as he slashes her to death. The test audiences thought the acting in the scene was terrible, and were confused about what it meant, asking questions like "Does this mean Freddy won? Where's Jason? Is this a dream? Is Will turning evil and is now some sort of Son-of-Freddy?" It was then replaced with the current ending, where Jason walks out of the water holding Freddy's decapitated head, and Freddy winking at the audience.
Forceful Kiss: During the nightmare where Lori's friends plan to sacrifice her to Freddy (because she's a virgin), Freddy — disguised as Lori's father — forcefully kisses her and sticks his tongue in her mouth. After she pushes him off, he returns to his original form and tries it again before she wakes up.
Freud Was Right: In universe, Kia decides to try this on Freddy by comparing his tiny knives to Jason's great big machete. A few seconds later, Kia meets said machete.
Gone Horribly Right: Freddy's plan did work; he got the power he required. But eventually, Jason realized he was tricked... Long story short, as anyone at Crystal Lake can tell you (the few who survived), having Jason angry it you is not a good thing.
Grand Finale: To the original Friday The 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street franchises; they continued in spinoff novels and comics, but the films rebooted after this.
Hoist by His Own Petard: When Freddy tries to kill the last survivors, Jason impales him with his own severed, claw-arm, distracting him long enough for the Final Girl to seize Jason's machete from Freddie and finish him off.
Home Field Advantage: Lori and co. lure Freddy and Jason to Camp Crystal Lake with this trope in mind.
I Have You Now, My Pretty: This is Freddy's primary attitude with Lori during her dreams. He starts out by kissing her, then puts her in a nightgown, calls her pet names like "Princess" and ultimately attempts to rape her.
I Love the Dead: Lori finds Freddy having his way with a camp counselor's corpse during Jason's nightmare. Possible hint to him wanting to rape her and foreshadowing of the attempt later in that dream.
I'm Not Afraid Of You: The scene from the original Nightmare On Elm Street was going to be parodied in an early version of this film. Kia repeats Nancy's lines almost word for word, and then turns her back... on Jason. As Freddy put it, right before Kia is killed, "Wrong one, bitch."
Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: A slasher movie wouldn't be one without a few of these. The most notable example in this film comes when Jason chops off Freddy's arm, then shoves it through his chest.
According to The Other Wiki, one planned yet scrapped ending had Jason and Freddy finding themselves in Hell and about to continue their fight there, only to have hooked chains spring in from nowhere to pin them both in place. As both struggle, they hear a familiar (to us) voice: "Gentlemen, is there a problem?" In walks Pinhead, end scene.
Kyle Labine (who played Freeburg) appeared as a teenage party-goer in Halloween: Resurrection; this makes him the only person to appear in films involving Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers.
Internal Retcon: A vast majority of Springwood's local history from 1984 onwards is redacted or missing — for good reason.
In Lori's first nightmare, she sees the spectres of Freddy's previous child victims singing the "One, two, Freddy's coming for you" rhyme. Then Freddy jumps up out of nowhere.
Lori is talking to Will in the car, and he tells her that he believes that Lori's father killed her mother. Then Lori's father shows up banging on the car window.
Kick the Dog: Strangely, Freddy is given one of these with the dog being Jason. In his nightmare, Jason reverts into a scared disfigured child, how he was before he became an undead killing machine. Freddy then tears off his hockey mask, calls him an "ugly little shit", and shows Jason the decapitated head of his mother.
Kill Steal: Freddy's plan works perfectly — until Jason stabs one of Freddy's intended victims.
"She was mine! MINE! MINE!"
Kiss of Life: Subverted when Freddy drowns Jason in the Dream World, and Kia, in the real world, has the unenviable task of performing mouth-to-mouth on him. It's Jason Voorhees (who looks like a rotting corpse underneath the mask); you can hardly blame her for being reluctant. Fortunately, he wakes up just before she appears to be ready to actually try it. See also Morton's Fork below.
Kryptonite Factor: Freddy and Jason both show fear when it comes to the elements which originally helped to kill them (fire and water, respectively).
Large Ham: Freddy is one of these, perhaps more than usual.
"Now it's time to put this bad dog to sleep...FOR GOOD! HAH!"
Lesser of Two Evils: The heroes ultimately decide that Jason is this compared to Freddy, since while both are unstoppable killing machines, Jason would just return to Camp Crystal Lake after beating Freddy.
Man on Fire: When Jason attacks a rave, one of the teens throws grain alcohol on him, then lights it with a torch — which results in a flaming unstoppable killing machine. Additionally, Jason averts the common theme of running around like a maniac while on fire. With his entire body engulfed in flames, he uses the same slow, deliberate, lumbering walk he's known for— presumably either ignoring the pain or not feeling it at all. His machete also ends up covered in flames, too. Every time he swings it, it leaves a wake of fire behind it.
Manipulative Bastard: Freddy assumes the form of Jason's mother in the Dream World in order to awaken Jason and send him to Springwood — all so Jason will kill teens and instill the fear of Freddy into Springwood again, which would give Freddy his power back.
Mind over Matter: Freddy can easily move objects with his mind in the dream world. He even plays an ad-hoc game of pinball with Jason's body.
Mirror Scare: In Mark's nightmare, he's getting some pills to help him stay awake from the mirror cupboard in the bathroom. When he closes it again, his reflection is replaced by Freddy.
Morton's Fork: Towards the end of the film, with Jason tranquilized and being "returned" to Crystal Lake by Will, Kia, and Linderman (under the assumption that he'll remain there and stop terrorizing their town unless provoked), they realize that he's being drowned by Freddy Krueger in a nightmare, which would kill Jason (or at least incapacitate him) in the real world as well. Since their plan involves setting up a showdown between Freddy and Jason (they have their money on the big guy), they panic, knowing they need Jason alive. They determine that there are two options— use CPR via mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to revive Jason (who looks like, and more or less IS, a rotting corpse underneath the hockey mask), or do nothing and let Freddy kill him.
Will (driving): We need him alive!
Linderman: Dude, what do you want me to do?! Like, give him mouth-to-mouth or something?!
Motive Decay: Subverted in relation to the various Elm Street sequels, as Freddy returned to his traditional "killing kids for revenge" motive.
The same can be said of Jason, who's returned completely to his 'killing because he thinks his mom wants him to' motivation.
Neck Snap: Jason does the "180 Degree Neck Snap" variant to some jock during the rave who told him to fuck off, all while poking him. Then it becomes a Crowning Moment of Funny when Jason pokes the still standing corpse, pushing it to the ground in front of the jock's friend.
No Sell: Until Freddy manages to take possession of Jason's machete, his attacks do nothing to Jason.
Nonchalant Dodge: Jason dodges several propane tanks sent his way by Freddy during their final fight (before he gets hit by a couple).
Jason doesn't dodge them, so much as they fail to hit Jason as he plods along.
Offscreen Teleportation: During the fight between Jason and Freddy at Camp Crystal Lake, Jason is propelled to a construction site by a propane tank projectile. Freddy then shows that he's standing on top of it, somehow having moved past Jason.
Oh Crap: Freddy has this reaction when he realizes he's been pulled into reality — and Jason is waiting for him.
This happens again when he sees Lori about to cut his head off. Killing her mother, getting her boyfriend committed, killing her friends, and nearly raping her wasn't a good idea after all.
When Freddy regrows his arms during their first fight, Jason briefly pulls back in surprise.
The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Freddy wants Jason to kill a few Springwood teens to reintroduce fear to the town — but when Jason wouldn't stop, Freddy demonstrates this attitude.
Opening Monologue: Freddy gets one of these to recap his origin and purpose, and a montage of clips from the first six Nightmare movies accompanies part of it.
Orifice Invasion: Freddy, in the shape of a grotesque caterpillar, forces himself down Freeburg's throat.
Papa Wolf: Lori's father does genuinely want to protect her. His secret drugging of her orange juice, lies, and general overbearing nature do a fair job of keep this from being positive, however.
Plot Hole: Canonically, Springwood is a town in Ohio, and Camp Crystal Lake is in New Jersey. The protagonists drive from one to the other in about an hour.
Religion of Evil: An early script featured a deranged cult that worshipped undead serial killer Freddy Krueger. They were called the "Fredheads".
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The opening includes showing the parents of Springwood coming for Freddy and "taking justice into their own hands."
Scared of What's Behind You: As Kia trash talks Freddy, he starts backing up. Encouraged, she advances on him while keeping up a stream of verbal abuse. Then he points behind her with a wicked smile and she sees he was backing up because Jason is right behind her.
Skinny Dipping: After Freddy's introduction, the movie begins with a girl skinny dipping at Camp Crystal Lake.
Speak of the Devil: Freddy's powers are fueled by the fear of Springwood's children, but his powers are drained until a random mention of his name (combined with Jason's killings) beget more mentions and more fear.
"Welcome to my world, bitch!" — which is said by both Freddy and Lori at different points near the end of the film.
Freddy also says "Let me handle this, bitch!" to Will when he's controlling Freeburg's body.
Throwing Your Sword Always Works: The scene where Jason throws his machete (which is on fire) through the fat guy's chest is a great example. It also doesn't seem too hard for Jason, a super-strong guy who seems to know how to properly use any form of weaponry.
Title Drop: The page-topping quote, which is from a deleted scene used only in the trailers (it was removed from the final cut due to its potential Narm factor).
Too Dumb to Live: When Freeburg sees a monster bug show up, he thinks it's awesome when it takes out a bong, and decides to follow it when it goes away. This might be explained by the fact that he's stoned out of his mind, but getting high in the first place while knowing that they're on the run from two undead serial killers was his own decision as well, so he still qualifies.
Town with a Dark Secret: Springwood's children and teenagers are unaware of Freddy and his past deeds until Jason starts killing, thanks to the adults refusing to speak his name and all records relating to Freddy having been deleted. The few people who do know of Freddy in even the vaguest manner are locked up in a psychiatric facility and drugged nightly to prevent them from dreaming.
The Undead: Freddy is the dream-haunting ghost of a child killer, and Jason is the zombified son of Crystal Lake's cook.
Villain Opening Scene: For both Freddy and Jason. The film opens with a monologue by Freddy Krueger. He explains how he came to be, and that the parents of Springwood have stopped him by erasing him from memory. He has found someone (Jason Voorhees) who he will use to instill fear in the town of Springwood once again, which will allow him to come back. This is followed by Jason stalking one of his victims in Camp Crystal Lake in his dreams before Freddy manipulates him in the guise of his mother to go to Springwood.
Even Freddy's detractors must admit it takes balls to fight something like Jason. Even after Freddy gets pulled into the real world (where he is mortal and seriously outclassed by Jason), he fights Jason anyway.
The teens hope Jason will be this if they get Freddy to Camp Crystal Lake for the fight. They also hope if Jason wins the fight, he'll stay "home" and not bother anyone outside it. The original Friday the 13th series justifies this, as Jason is known to never leave Camp Crystal Lake unless forced to do so.
Virgin Sacrifice: During one of Lori's dreams, Freddy makes her believe her friends wish to do this to her to lure Freddy — right before he plants a kiss on her. This is also a hint at Freddy trying to take Lori's virginity later.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Springwood decided to deal with Freddy by censoring any possible mention of him. This includes locking up any still-living kids that know his name and drugging them with unapproved anti-dream medicine that rendered dozens of kids comatose from overdose when it failed to work. They successfully stopped him for four years.
Lori: Wait a minute — Freddy died by fire, Jason by water. How can we use that?
Freddy discovers Jason suffers from water-phobia due to the way he died as a child. This leads to a Continuity Snarl when you remember Jason was completely fine around water in his series — though there is an out, as Jason's fear of water comes into play only after Freddy brings up Jason's trauma in the Dream World, and later in the real world Jason shows no fear of water.
Confirmed in the novelization: Jason's hydrophobia is a DEEPLY buried fear that Freddy could only exploit because he was inside Jason's head. In reality, Jason's viewpoint about water is 1) He doesn't give a shit, and 2) It's good for drowning people.
Freddy himself flinches and expresses fear when the cabin he and Jason are fighting in is ignited. He gets over it pretty quickly, though.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Jason, of all people, comes off as one of these, especially during his Dream World battle with Freddy. Loads of fans root for Jason over Freddy; he may be a mindless supernatural killing machine, but at least he's not a child molester and expressly sadistic murderer. Jason's actor was specifically recast to an actor who could emote with his eyes and make them sympathetic.
You! Exclamation: When Lori interupts Jason's nightmare in which Freddy is killing him through drowning, Jason vanishes from the dream as he wakes up. Freddy turns to Lori, lets out an enraged "YOU!", and focuses his attention on her.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: By the time Freddy becomes powerful enough to kill people, Jason has become more trouble than he's worth to Freddy, so Freddy attempts to kill him.